Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Blaine Harden

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  • Publisher: Mantle
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 153mm x 234mm x 24mm | 464g
  • Publication date: 29 March 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0230748732
  • ISBN 13: 9780230748736
  • Sales rank: 131,874

Product description

Twenty-six years ago, Shin Dong-hyuk was born inside Camp 14, one of five sprawling political prisons in the mountains of North Korea. Located about 55 miles north of Pyongyang, the labor camp is a 'complete control district,' a no-exit prison where the only sentence is life. No one born in Camp 14 or in any North Korean political prison camp has escaped. No one except Shin. This is his story. A gripping, terrifying memoir with a searing sense of place, ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14 will unlock, through Shin, a dark and secret nation, taking readers to a place they have never before been allowed to go. 'This is a story unlike any other' Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

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Author information

Blaine Harden is a reporter for PBS Frontline and a contributor to the Economist, based in Seattle, having completed a tour as the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tokyo. He is the prize-winning, acclaimed author of two books: Africa: Dispatches from a Fragile Continent (Norton, 1990) and A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia (Norton, 1996).

Customer reviews

By Ben 28 Aug 2012 5


This book takes the reader to a country we all know about, but one we probably fail to appreciate the depth of hopelessness the country and people are in. The author takes you into the life of Shin Dong-hyuk and through his eyes you find out what it is like to grow up in a N/Korean camp for political prisoners. You see what daily life is like and the meaningless existence that comes with growing up in a place with no hope, no opportunities and a morality totally created by the camp / regime.

When Shin eventually escapes he takes you into the difficulties he had (and is still having) when he found how the rest of the world operates - when he discovered forgiveness, love and trust - things he had no knowledge of because they just didn't exist in the camp and therefore in his life.

From a writing perspective the author does a lot to quantify the statements, locations and recollections Shin puts forward. He is honest enough to mention when it is difficult / impossible to obtain evidence to support Shin's memories. On the flipside he also shows the research which supports Shin.



I gave this book five stars for taking me into a world that is hard to believe exists; for making me thankful for living where I live; and for encouraging me to do my bit to help people less fortunate than myself.

Review quote

"Through the extraordinary arc of Shin''s life, Harden illuminates the North Korea that exists beyond the headlines and creates a moving testament to one man''s struggle to retrieve his own lost humanity."---Marcus Noland, co-author of "Witness to Transformation: ""Refugee Insights into North Korea"